By Hope Nda, Babila Dorinda & Enow Browndine
Cameroonian non-profit organisation, Royalty World, has executed the second round of a community-centred project dubbed “Bolifamba Economic Empowerment Project”, BEEP, through which it has enhanced the business management skills of 40 vulnerable and internally displaced women in Bolifamba, Buea.
These women were trained during a four-day session held at Bolifamba from Wednesday, July 19 to Saturday, July 22. The training ended with the selection of 25 of them, whose small-scale business ideas will be sponsored. The project is being sponsored by US-based Cameroonian philanthropist and physician, Dr Muma Cletus, with Royalty World as implementing partner.
Participating at the economic empowerment workshop were internally displaced women, widows, and single mothers. Royalty World’s founder and Director, Doris Ngum, said the project was birthed from her desire to make vulnerable women and girls self-sustainable.
At the workshop, various experts in financial and business management took four days to drill the women on business development and marketing, growing a micro business, financial literacy, dealing with poverty mind-set, among others.
“We identified that most of these women are vulnerable. They have moved from other communities and they’ve come here and they’ve lost family members, they’ve lost their economic activities, most of them have lost their capital,” said Doris Ngum.
“So as a result of that, they don’t have the resources to even sponsor their kids back to school… Then the result is children are going to be on the street; teenage pregnancy is going to be on the rise; we are going to have drug addicts… So that was a very big problem. We saw that this dysfunctional family issue was causing a lot of social ills within the community. We started thinking about how we could handle that.
“First thing we identified was to help the kids go back to school, but then it’s not sustainable. We couldn’t continue sponsoring the kids in school without necessarily looking at a sustainable means of helping their mothers to pick up their economic projects. Because if the women are economically viable, they now will be able to take care of the kids,” said Doris Ngum.
The recent training was the second phase of the Bolifamba Economic Empowerment project. In the first phase, Royalty World trained 30 women and funded business projects for seven of them. But the organisation realised that many women lacked the knowledge on how to manage businesses, reason why it decided to groom them on financial management in the project’s second phase.
At the end of the recent training, the 25 whose business ideas have been approved will be given “seed capital with very close follow-up”. The follow-up will last six months.
“We are working with partners who are going to be giving these businesses the guidance that they need. And our staff, as well, are going to be working with these businesses,” Doris Ngum said.
Most of the projects they are sponsoring revolve around agriculture, fish farming, poultry and piggery farming.
The coordinator of this phase of the BEEP project was 23-year-old Chinenye Rejoice, one of Royalty World’s passionate staff. She said her next task will be to effectively follow-up the women to implement their business initiatives.
“We’ll ensure that we follow them up wherever they need help whatever, they need assistance, they come in we drill them on what to do,” she said.
She added that they will hold monthly sessions with the women for the next six months to evaluate the progress of their businesses and the challenges they are facing.
Project Sponsor Expresses Desire To Do More
Dr Muma Cletus, who sponsored the BEEP project, said he has more projects in the pipeline. After sponsoring several other initiatives at home, he said the BEEP project was another way of helping the vulnerable and empowering people to be self-sufficient.
“We can forgo a cup of coffee; we can forego going out to eat to do something that can, not only transform somebody’s life immediately, but change the course of their lives,” Dr Muma told The Post.
“We’re gonna continually be involved in this, you know, be involved in this community. It’s starting in Bolifamba but it doesn’t mean it’s gonna end in Bolifamba.”
He said future projects will involve securing land where displaced women and others who are underprivileged can freely carry out agricultural activities to sustain themselves.
“That is the goal, to put power back into the hands of people, so that they can be in control of their lives,” Dr Muma said.
On the fourth day of the workshop, he spoke to the women, via zoom, encouraging them to properly utilise the business knowledge they received.
Participants Laud Royalty World For Marvelous Job
Among many women who attended the training was Chu Emilia, a widow based in Bolifamba, Buea. Before becoming part of the BEEP project, Emilia was doing farming and selling fire wood to sustain her family.
After the training with Royalty World, she plans to set up a poultry farm and scale up her farming.
“This training had taught me a lot especially on how to manage money. I have been taught to separate myself from the business, to keep business money separate from other finances, to shun borrowing, to avoid buying what I have not planned for,” she said.
“I believe what I have learned here will help me a lot, because there are many things I was doing out of ignorance. But through this session, I will be able to adjust in many places where I have been weak,” she added.
Another participant and beneficiary of Royalty World’s sponsorship, Fomba Marceline, a displaced returnee, said the training fine-tuned her business management skills.
“I was doing business but one of the things I didn’t know was how to separate my business capital from my salary. But what I have learned here I must put it in action so that my business will go well,” she said.